William Babatunde Fowler was born to the family of Professor (Dr) and (Chief) Mrs. W.V. Fowler both of Lagos State. He studied in the United States of America at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, where he obtained his first bachelor’s degree with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in Political Science in 1978. He completed a second bachelor’s degree program at California State University, Los Angeles and also a Master of Business Administration degree program at California State University, Dominguez Hills in 1981.
He started out as a Marketing Intern with Avon Products Inc. New York working under the Vice President in charge of Africa. Having completed his formal education, he was employed by Johnson and Johnson in New Jersey USA, thereafter he was transferred to join Johnson and Johnson, Nigeria between September 1982 and September 1983.
He made a career change from International Finance and Marketing to Banking in January 1984. In the banking industry, he had the opportunity to work and also head broad and varied areas of banking operations and business development in two major commercial banks over the next 20 years.
He joined Commercial Bank (Credit Lyonnais Nigeria Limited) in January 1984, where he was exposed to all aspects of International Banking, Risk Management, and Clearing Operations. He introduced positive reforms as the Treasurer of the bank. He was a foundation member and trustee of the now Money Market Association of Nigeria. His banking experience at Commercial Bank (Credit Lyonnais Nigeria Limited) came to conclusion with his last appointment as the Apapa Branch Manager, the first branch of the bank outside the head office.
He left Commercial Bank (Credit Lyonnais Nigeria Limited) in March 1990 to join Chartered Bank in April 1990 as a Senior Manager where he spent the next 14 years. His initial posting was as Head of Branch Network during which he successfully grew the bank’s branches from two to 11 branches, spread over the country within the first five years. He was also in charge of revenue collections for both State and Federal agencies, which he grew, placing the bank amongst the top three banks in all collections. He demonstrated excellence as a seasoned banker and administrator until he left the organization as a General Manager in March 2004.
Upon leaving the banking industry in 2004, Mr. Fowler joined the Lagos State Government and was appointed the pioneer Permanent Secretary/Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue on the 24th of November 2005, thereby upgrading the office of the Executive Chairman to the highest level in the Civil Service.
The Board of Internal Revenue became autonomous and self accounting with the passage into law in January 2006 of the Lagos State Revenue Administration Law (the first Revenue Board to become autonomous in Nigeria). Mr. Fowler was appointed as the pioneer Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service and Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue.
With this re-engineering, the new Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue (as it is now referred to) achieved the following within nine years of his stewardship between 2006 and 2015:
· A sharp increase in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from an average of
N3.6 Billion monthly as at January, 2006 to an average of over N23 Billion monthly as at June, 2015;
· Improved quality of service delivery to taxpayers;
· Improvement in the use of IT and other modern methods of tax administration;
· An unprecedented enlightenment campaign on tax administration and education in Africa.
These reforms made Lagos State the only state in the Federal Republic of Nigeria that is financially independent of the monthly financial allocation of revenue from the Federation Account and also the only State that generates internally, more revenue than the monthly allocation from the Federation Account. The state is presently able to meet to a considerable degree, the enormous demands for infrastructure and services from the exploding population presently put at over 21 million.
In recognition of the above, Mr. William Babatunde Fowler was awarded Honorary Senior Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria in 2004, conferred with fellowship ‘Honoris Causa’ by Certified Board of Administrators of Nigeria in May 2007 and Professional Honorary Doctorate Degree in June 2007 by the Irish International University. He is also a Fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and Business Management Association (UK).
He was appointed Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service and Chairman Joint Tax Board on 18th August, 2015 by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to oversee the FIRS and drive the change agenda of the administration in the tax sector. He is currently implementing initiatives to improve tax compliance and collection in order to meet the FIRS tax collection.
Mr. William Babatunde Fowler is happily married to Mrs. Rosemary Fowler and they are blessed with wonderful children.